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What foods can cats eat that can also help them in the fight against cancer?
CL RE BERRY Last Updated: Dec 06, 2015
Claire Berry is a professional writer and editor in San Francisco, Calif. Berry has been writing about animals and the human-animal bond since 2006. Her work appears in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Humane Society of the United States, and other publications. Berry holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley.
A domestic shorthair cat with a swollen belly.Photo Credit: Getty Images
Cancer can be a difficult condition to treat. Most people think of cancer in terms of the damage that the disease causes to human health, such as damage to organs, tissues, bones and even the immune system. The treatment for these types of cancer can be very expensive and very painful. However, some studies show that a number of animals are also victims of cancer, and cats are just one such example.
Many kinds of cancer have been observed in cats, and some of them have been very rare. The most common types of cancer observed in cats are cancer of the skin, prostate, mammary glands and testicles. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 2.5 percent of pet cats will develop cancer in their lifetime, with the most common type of cancer being skin cancer. Another one of the most common types of cancer observed in cats is mammary gland cancer, with an estimated 0.4 percent of cats diagnosed with this disease each year.
One of the most difficult cancers to treat in cats is anal gland cancer. This cancer affects the anal glands, which are located in the tail of the cat. Anal gland cancer is rare in cats, but many cats who have it will also have another type of cancer, such as leukemia. According to the National Cancer Institute, anal gland cancer in cats is rare. The incidence of this disease in the cat population is only reported to be approximately one case for every five million cats.
Testicular cancer is another very common type of cancer seen in cats. The American Cancer Society reports that approximately 1 percent of male cats will be diagnosed with testicular cancer. Cats who have this disease may have a reduced fertility, due to the fact that the testes are affected. The American Cancer Society also reports that approximately 50 percent of cats with testicular cancer who survive will develop another type of cancer.
Other types of cancer in cats include lymphoma, leukemia and leukemia-like tumors. Leukemia can cause fever, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea, and is more common in older cats. Cats who are suffering from leukemia may also become weak, very tired or may even look "lethargic." If leukemia is not treated, a cat who has this disease can die, or the disease may continue and become more severe. However, if leukemia is treated, many cats will experience a remission of symptoms.
In some cases of cancer, including leukemia, it may be possible to completely eliminate the cancer cells by a course of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can help a cat who has leukemia get through his or her treatment, and it can improve the chances of a remission and a good prognosis. However, a cat who has been diagnosed with leukemia may also have cancer cells in the bone marrow and in the blood. In the case of leukemia, this can be treated with radiation therapy or other treatments.
Another type of cancer that can be successfully treated in cats is lymphoma, which is also known as lymphosarcoma. Lymphomas are malignant neoplasms that are derived from the lymphatic system, which is the body's system for circulating blood cells and lymph. Lymphomas that are diagnosed in cats are also sometimes seen in dogs, although most cases are in cats.
Treatment for lymphomas in cats is based on the stage of the disease. Most cats with stage 0-I lymphomas will be successfully treated with radiation and will never experience a recurrence. Cats with stage II lymphomas will be treated with radiation, chemotherapy, surgery and immune system support. Stage II lymphomas in cats have a survival rate of approximately 80 percent. Cats with stage III lymphomas will be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immune system support. Stage III lymphomas in cats have a survival rate of approximately 50 percent. In stage IV lymphomas, a cat may or may not survive, depending on whether the cat's condition is acute or chronic.
There are also some types of cancer in cats that are very treatable and have an excellent prognosis. Cats who have anal gland cancer may experience a remission after the cancer has been treated. Cats with breast cancer may also experience a remission of symptoms, and may live for several more years. The most common type of breast cancer in cats is mammary gland cancer, with approximately 1 percent of cats diagnosed with this disease each year. Many of the cats who develop breast cancer have a benign tumor that grows on their breast, but some have mammary gland cancer.
There are some types of cancer in cats that are never curable and that have a very bad prognosis. These types of cancers include tumors of the esophagus, lymph node tumors and tumors of the kidney, bladder and other organs. These types of cancers are more likely to develop in older cats, but they are more common in kittens than in adults.
The American Cancer Society says that there are many ways that a cat can get cancer, such as exposure to a chemical, a virus, genetic predisposition, or environmental exposures. Most cats get cancer through exposure to viruses, such as feline leukemia virus, FeLV. While this virus is a cancer virus in cats, it does not cause cancer in humans. It is more likely that a cat will have cancer because of exposure to an environmental agent, such as radiation or asbestos.
Cats who are exposed to radiation have a very high risk of developing cancer, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This risk increases as the amount of radiation that a cat is exposed to increases. Cats may also be exposed to environmental agents if they lick or chew on contaminated objects, or if they eat items that are contaminated.